Slot manufacturers seem to agree that although it remains a demand, the progressive slot market is pretty mature. But in this day and age, “mature” does not mean progressive slots are forever unchanging and staid.
Due to popular demand, slot manufacturers are continuing to produce a variety of linked progressive (LAP) games, which offer the same jackpot levels as traditional progressive banks but with fewer machines. Basically, operators are addressing the demand for LAPs by reducing the size of their progressive banks and placing several different types of LAPs on their floor.
Standalone progressive (SAP) technology has also continued as a common add-on for an individual machine. However, the difference between LAPs and SAPs is that SAPs usually incorporate engaging bonus entertainment in addition to standard play. This link can be within a local area network (LAN) or involve machines in a wide area network (WAN).
“As the slot products evolved into video reel slots, multi-level progressives have become the dominant style of progressive games,” said Allon Engleman, senior vice president and chief design officer at Scientific Games Corporation. “Now many types of traditional progressives and mysteries with three, four, five or more levels are the standard.”
“We continue to see enthusiasm for multi-link progressives and standalone progressives,” added Victor Duarte, global chief product officer, gaming for IGT. “Our new 99 Riches standalone mystery progressive offers four different progressive levels that help drive gameplay and features more ways for the player to win. This title spotlights another progressive trend—enabling players to win a progressive jackpot at any bet level.”
Meanwhile Ainsworth is drawing operator attention with games that offer what they consider to be obtainable progressives. “Something that players see incrementing at a steady pace, they know on the ceiling, they know when it is going to hit, they know what to look for and how that progressive operates,” said Cody Herrick, product marketing manager at Ainsworth.
Few would argue that the greatest advantage of progressive slots are the jackpots; not just for the players, but for casino operators seeking the marketing draw created by these large jackpots as well. “Different progressives reach different player demographics,” said Steve Walther, director, product management, games at Konami Gaming. “There are some progressives with large or life-changing, high dollar jackpots that cater more to entertainment-style players who will throw some money towards that jackpot hoping they win it big. Or there are lower progressive top awards with greater hit frequency that appeal more to the regular gambler who wants that extra pay-out potential or is looking to make their money go a little further on the floor.”
Manufacturers are continuing to evolve progressive awards, experimenting with new play mechanics, interactive components and skill-based concepts. Walther sums up why progressive slots are so enticing to players, “There’s something that gamblers inherently enjoy about watching their wager go towards an incrementing award meter that they can potentially win on every spin,” he said. “When a player puts money into a progressive machine, they can actually see the jackpot steadily grow higher and higher with each bet, so they know the money they’ve invested in the game has the potential to be won back. Players bet that investment into the jackpot, hoping they can win a greater return.”
So… what are manufactures doing in such a mature market to hold interest? Below you will find a list of slot manufacturers and their latest progressive slot developments:
IGT operates in more than 100 countries worldwide and provides the industry’s largest end-to-end product portfolio. Their industry-leading R&D investment enables them to foster innovation and deliver compelling games to various progressive players within each market. IGT continues to offer customers a wide selection of progressive-themed configurations including wide area progressive, linked, standalone, mystery progressives and others.
“IGT has the largest amount of progressive jackpot titles in the market,” Duarte said. “We are introducing a compelling selection of progressive links, combined with market-attuned content, to build our progressive business. We’re also leveraging our cross-platform content development and distribution with progressive game themes such as Megajackpots Cleopatra and Siberian Storm, elevating IGT’s interactive portfolio for desktop and mobile content offerings.”
Wheel of Fortune has been established as the most successful slot theme of all time for IGT, revolutionizing the progressive slot experience with more than 200 game themes enjoyed by players in more than 20 countries worldwide. Wheel of Fortune has created more than 1,000 millionaires and awarded more than $3 billion in jackpots, setting it apart from any other game theme in the industry.
IGT has enhanced its progressive content portfolio with its award-winning TRUE 3D technology. “Our TRUE 3D library has transformed slot play with a unique glasses-free 3D gaming environment, and has integrated compelling progressive bonuses to ignite the player experience,” Duarte said. “We originally introduced SPHINX 3D slots, which offer five progressive jackpot levels while IGT’s Cash Fever 3D game offers various bonus progressive levels. IGT’s Wheel of Fortune Double Diamond 3D melds the most successful slot theme of all time with one of the most celebrated video slot technologies of recent years. Leveraging three unique multi-level progressives, Wheel of Fortune Double Diamond 3D is the industry’s first wide area progressive to feature TRUE 3D technology.”
Progressive fan-favorites such as Megajackpots Cleopatra and Siberian Storm have successfully launched in Europe and are enabling players to qualify for progressive jackpots at any bet; offering more opportunities to win at all levels while boosting operator revenues.
Moving forward, IGT is building on the evolution of progressive slot play by delivering game content across channels, to desktop and mobile devices.
Incredible Technologies (IT) is a Class III slot manufacturer currently licensed in 23 states in the U.S., multiple international jurisdictions and on iGaming platforms. IT introduced the Infinity Link premium product segment in 2015, with a nationwide rollout set for 2016.
Infinity Link is a bank-wide local area progressive that utilizes a modified version of the company’s Simple Sign Display Kit with a smart controller to advertise progressive meters, bonus wins and other merchandising effects. IT also features linkable progressives in games featured in the Infinity Skybox product segment, as well as in numerous high performing core games.
IT recently launched a new premium product segment, Infinity Skybox, which heightens their Infinity U23 cabinet with the addition of an integrated 55-inch vertical monitor to display local area progressives in an impactful way. Infinity Skybox debuted with two flagship titles—Crazy Money Deluxe and Money Rain Deluxe. Each game is outfitted with a linkable Sky Wheel—a massive digital bonus wheel displayed overhead to trigger progressive jackpots and other bonus awards.
“Progressives have become an important element of product segmentation for Incredible Technologies,” said Dan Schrementi, vice president of gaming sales & marketing at IT. “Customers want to see depth in a catalog, and within that depth needs to be categories that touch on their players’ needs. Types of progressives and the form factor they’re shown in have become an important pivot-point in our product marketing mix.”
Infinity Link launched with two progressive game families—Color Pays and GoldLink Progressives. “Color Pays and GoldLink are both innovative game families utilizing unique progressive triggers that players will find not only exciting but also easy to understand and approachable,” Schrementi said.
In 2016 IT will be debuting ways in which they leverage the excitement of progressive jackpots to impact more players on a particular bank of linked games.
Konami Gaming creates a wide variety of progressive slots—from SAPs that are integrated within select game themes to SAPs that exist a la carte, like Quick Strike and Jackpot Streams. These progressives are compatible across multiple cabinets and able to be placed on top of most any of their base game products, their linked products that work the same way and to their most common—the add-on extended ROM-style progressive.
Konami allows casino properties to own and create their own custom progressive games using system-delivered progressive functionality through its SYNKROS casino management system. “Because SPM can launch progressives to any slot machine on the floor with no additional in-machine hardware required, operators have the flexibility to deploy linked progressives to the exact banks or standalone machines they want,” said Michael Ratner, director, product management, systems at Konami. “In addition, future development of SYNKiosk Mobile will provide customers with real-time information on the casino’s own progressive jackpots—such as the current progressive values and the amount of time since they last hit—all via smartphone, so players can get the latest updates on their favorite jackpots from anywhere.”
Konami’s latest progressive slots games are Wheel of the Imperial Eggs and Jackpot Ball. Both being the first standalone progressives offered on the new Concerto video cabinet, and can be combined with a variety of KP3+ platform base games on the bottom screen. With the enhanced power and speed of Concerto’s KP3+ platform, these new extended ROM games feature more vivid bonus animation across both video screens, which makes for a bigger, bolder celebration. “For the first time, we’re also introducing an extended ROM to our Rapid Revolver video-mechanical hybrid cabinet that can be combined with most any KP3 base game on the lower screen.” Walther said. “It’s a game called Lucky Sticks, and the bonus awards are actually delivered through a combination of interactions between the lower video screen and six big mechanical reels stacked across the top box.”
“Our R&D team is actively exploring a diversity of new opportunities to create games that captivate casino audiences like nothing else before,” Walther added. “We will continue to push the envelope to find new ways to bring engaging entertainment to the next generation of progressive slots, just like you saw us do with Titan 360.”
Scientific Games provides a complete range of progressive slot products, offering games with standalone progressives, multi-level linked progressives, mystery progressives and wide area progressives. Many of their most popular games, like Blazing 7’s, Quick Hit, Hot Shot Progressive, Life of Luxury, and 88 Fortunes have incorporated progressive jackpots and their wide range of WAP games include some of the top third-party brands in the industry today.
The award winning, 88 Fortunes is currently one of Scientific Games’ most successful progressive slots. “The game is renowned across the globe and leads the market in the United States, Australia, and Asia,” Engleman said. “The unique theme, authentic Chinese artwork, enticing progressive jackpots starting at $10,000 for the penny denomination, and frequent jackpot hits set it apart from the competition.”
In addition, Quick Hit progressive games continue to be a staple of progressive products in North America. The max bet progressive games come in countless styles, but all offer progressives that are triggered by scattered Quick Hit symbols on the reels. “Quick Hit progressive’s games have become so popular that casinos will include several banks of games in a single property,” said Engleman.
TwinStar is one of Scientific Games latest games and offers two new styles of progressives with Bally’s new Quick Hit series Volcano and Jungle; each offering a five-level progressive jackpot. Additionally, Zeus Son of Kronos and Kronos Father of Zeus are WMS branded progressive games that are featured on TwinStar.
AINSWORTH GAME TECHNOLOGY
Progressive slots encompass a large part of business at Ainsworth. “Out of all the games we make, which is 60-plus games a year, 99 percent of those have progressive or could have some sort of progressive on them,” Herrick said.
Ainsworth is continuing to grow with customized progressives through the QX32 Link Controller which can run progressives on 1,000-plus Ainsworth machines. A single QX32 Link Controller can support 12 separate progressive parameter sets and each parameter set supports eight levels of progressives.
Ainsworth is very versatile in the progressive market with standalone progressives, standalone mystery progressives, as well as linked symbol-driven and their most popular customizable linked mystery progressives, featuring customized start amounts, hit before amounts and increments.
Sky High Stacks is the newest addition to Ainsworth’s Premium Plus range. Based on max bet jackpot play, Sky High Stacks features four standalone progressives, bonus prizes, special expanding wild symbols and other entertaining features.
Moving forward, Ainsworth will be focusing on continuing and improving support of the QX32 Link Controller. “Initially we developed it and we put it in the back of the closet where we could run progressive graphics off of it,” Herrick said. “Starting to advance that, and looking to do a wide area with it in the future, as well as some accounting features, remote auditing and hot swat backup, as well as we have designed some new design packages [regular overhead, overhead topers, LCD toppers, or some LCD monitors], it will support that with custom graphics.”